School had started for me, and it totally slipped my mind while I was busy beyond words that September was right around the corner. Tuesday, in fact, is the first day that any member of the Chicago Cubs’ 40-man roster can be called up as reinforcements and to spell the regulars as we enter the home stretch of the season. Here’s some interesting info from today’s press notes:
Joe Maddon says Pierce Johnson is not on #Cubs radar for September call-up.
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) August 29, 2015
#Cubs will likely add players in 2 waves — Tuesday and then when Iowa season ends. Berry and Bonifacio likely Tuesday too
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 29, 2015
#Cubs Maddon likes idea of having Baez up on Tues "because there's a lot things he can do to help you win right now."
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 29, 2015
Javier Baez has been a popular name amongst Cubs fans given his versatility and Starlin Castro‘s season-long struggles, but despite his success at Iowa, it remains to be seen how well he actually hits once he sees the big leagues again. However, Baez’s talent potential is off the charts, so maybe it just clicks for him.
As for the others, we’re talking about former Cubs utility guy Emilio Bonifacio (who didn’t do so hot with the White Sox after a half-season with the Cubs and a trade to Atlanta) and speedster Quintin Berry, who appeared in two straight World Series with Detroit and Boston, winning with the Red Sox in 2013. Berry’s primary use will be like the Kansas City Royals using guys like Terrence Gore in pinch-running situations when an extra base is desired. Bonifacio, of course, can stand all over the field including all the up-the-middle positions except catcher (though he could probably do that too, not that the Cubs don’t already have three catchers already).
Maddon expects Baez, the two new guys (Berry, Bonifacio) and some DL guys (RSoriano, maybe Motte) in first wave of Sept roster adds on 9/1.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) August 29, 2015
I’m sure most Cubs fans don’t want to see them at all (especially Soriano), but there are other options waiting in Iowa once the calendar turns over. With the 40-man full, the Cubs would need to drop two guys off the roster to accommodate Berry and Bonifacio. There is the possibility of transferring one of the 15-day guys to the 60-day DL, but then they wouldn’t come back in time for the start of the postseason (I’m fuzzy on whether the 60-day resets after the World Series or after the regular season; I’m going with AZ Phil here). So that would be a last resort, even though Jorge Soler‘s oblique injury status is unsure at best right now.
There is of course the option of designating a player for assignment. Fringe guys like Yoervis Medina and Dallas Beeler might be casualties here. Even with his post-trade struggles, I don’t think the Cubs will just cut Dan Haren loose, and they probably won’t do that to Tommy Hunter either. A popular guess might be that the Cubs finally drop Jonathan Herrera, but he seems to be an important glue guy, which sounds weird for an analytical front office, but I guess that stuff is important and I’m not gonna knock it.
That brings us to the players the Cubs will add, aside from Baez, Berry and Bonifacio. Mike Olt is an obvious choice, as he can play the corners and swings a big stick. The Cubs may take a spin with Carl Edwards Jr. (the former CJ Edwards) to see what he can provide out of the pen. Zac Rosscup and Tsuyoshi Wada are also available as LOOGY and long relief, respectively.
Unfortunately, Arismendy Alcantara has had a horrible time at Iowa this season, though he does provide plenty of positional flexibility. I doubt the Cubs bring him up, but it’s not an impossibility. A more intriguing option is Christian Villanueva, who is in his final option year and has a good glove but an uninspiring bat. While the Cubs should be covered all over the field by the other more likely options, it may be worthwhile to see what Villanueva can do with the big league team.
It’s important to note that anyone who was in the organization (that is, on the 40-man or already signed as a Cub in some capacity throughout the system) can be eligible for postseason play, pending some transactional gymnastics involving the disabled lists. Considering that the Cubs remain the fourth-best team in the majors and nobody should panic, September is going to be a very fun time as we discover how the Cubs intend to juggle their playoff roster, even if it’s just for a Wild Card game.
UPDATE 9/1 10:30 AM: This was from last night, but pretty much stays in line with what we thought:
First wave of #Cubs call-ups tomorrow: Javy Baez, OF Quintin Berry and pitchers Trevor Cahill and Tsuyoshi Wada.
— Bruce Miles (@BruceMiles2112) September 1, 2015
UPDATE 6:45 PM: Just before game time when I saw this, but important info anyway as Rafael Soriano and James Russell were DFA to make room for Berry and Cahill. I think I saw the Soriano DFA coming, and shouldn’t be too surprised about Russell, who’s been pretty bad as well. Details via MLBTR.